Escalation in local foodbank usage matches national trend

The number of food parcels handed out in Reading has shot up a staggering 64% in just six months – and if trends continue, it will have risen 100% in a year. The rise is in line with figures released by the Trussell Trust, which revealed that nearly 1million people have used a foodbank in the past 12 months – 1 in 67 of the UK population.

ReadiFood, a food bank that operates independently of the Trussell Trust, has been handing out emergency parcels in the town for more than 25 years.In 2013, it handed out 1,450 parcels between January and June. Then, the second six months of the year (July to December) that soared to 2,381 parcels.It is now handing out an average of 97.5 food parcels every week, after hitting a peak of 110 food parcels in January 2013.During the year, it gave away £50,000 worth of food, with each parcel, containing enough food to last three days, worth around £10.

And the charity says that changes to the Benefits system introduced by the Coalition Government are a key factor in demand soaring. People who would in the past have received a Crisis Loan to tide them over until Benefits were organised are now referred to a foodbank for a parcel.

Malcolm Peirce, director of ReadiFood, said: “We have seen a noticeable rise in the numbers of people having their benefits sanctioned, due to failure to attend a meeting or send the right documentation in or fail to prove that they have applied for enough jobs in a given week.”Benefits are temporarily stopped whilst entitlement is reviewed.

“It is tragic that benefits are stopped whilst being reviewed rather than continued and only stopped if a problem is found.”

Malcolm added that the people referred to them are destitute as well as desperate.He said: “Often people who are referred to us have no savings to fall back on. Many will be in long term poverty and have loans to service. Thus loss of benefits is crippling.”ReadiFood relies on donated food, and has run a number of supermarket collections. Most churches in the area accept donations to pass on and schools often pass on their food in harvest collections.It also welcomes donations to help fund its operating costs.

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Last modified on Monday, 13 April 2015 09:49